||Worldwide biodiversity assessments have mainly focused on species richness but little is known about the diversity of species roles, i.e. functional diversity, while this is a key facet to understanding the consequences of global changes on the ecosystem services to human societies. Here, we report the world pattern of functional diversity of freshwater fish using a database encompassing morphological characteristics of more than 9,000 species. The Neotropical realm hosts more than 75% of global functional diversity while other realms each host less than 25%. This discrepancy is mediated by high functional uniqueness in some diversified Neotropical fish orders. Surprisingly, functional diversity patterns were weakly related to functional vulnerability. In the Neotropics the loss of threatened species will cause a limited loss of functional diversity (<10%) whereas in the Nearctic and Palearctic realms, decline of the functional diversity will reach 43% and 33%, respectively, conferring a high functional vulnerability to these realms. Conservation of the Neotropical fish diversity is a key target to maintain world fish functional diversity, but this should not hide the pressing need to conserve the vulnerable fish faunas of the rest of the world, in which functional diversity is to a large extent supported by threatened species.